Constipation is one of the most common conditions experienced by many people around the world. This is a situation where people experiencing infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools. The stools to be lumpy and hard, sometimes even described as small pellet or large hard stool. The typical length of time between bowel movements depends on the individual, varying from person to person.
Constipation is defined as having lesser than 3 bowel movements in a week or more than 3 days without passing stools should raise alarms, and your stools can get harder as more water being absorbed by the colon, this makes the stool difficult to pass.
Identifying the Symptoms
You may experience the following symptoms of constipation:
- Passing motion less than 3 times weekly
- Hard, lumpy or small stools
- Straining during bowel movements
- A feeling of incomplete emptying the stool
- Needing help to empty the bowels, such as pressing on the abdomen using your hands or using a finger to remove stool from the rectum
Your constipation may be considered a chronic case if you have experienced 2 or more of the above-mentioned symptoms more than 3 months.
Causes of Constipation
Constipation occurs most commonly when the stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract. It can also occur when the stool cannot be eliminated from the rectum effectively, causing it to become dry and hard.
There are several lifestyle causes, namely:
- Insufficient water or fiber intake
- Changes to what you eat in your diet
- Not being active and irregular exercise
Other causes include:
- Certain medications such as antidepressants, anti abdominal cramp medication and iron pills
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Underactive thyroid
- Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke
What Can You Do
You can take the following steps in the event of a constipation:
- Drink at least 1-1.5L water daily, unless you are advised by your doctor to limit fluids for a different reason(Heart failure, kidney disease).
- For mornings, try consuming warm liquids.
- Eat prunes and bran cereal.
- Increase activities and exercise regularly. When you get active and move your body, this helps the muscles in your intestines to become more active too.
- Include fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Having a regular habit going to toilet everyday
When to See a Doctor
If you have sudden constipation and symptoms like cramps, belly pain and inability to poop or pass gas, seek for medical help. Look out for other signs such as blood in stools, unintentional weight loss, severe pain with bowel movements and constipation that has lasted for more than 2 weeks, which also require a doctor’s consultation.
You can also see a gastroenterology specialist in Singapore for your constipation problem and know more about your gut health.